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Eastern Florida Women's Tennis Plays First Official Matches This Weekend
Sept. 26, 2013 - Eastern Florida State College's inaugural women's tennis team competes officially for the first time at this weekend's USTA /ITA Regional Tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, FL.
The event doubles as the Florida College System Activities Associstion (FCSAA) Fall Tournament. Joining Eastern Florida will be Broward College, Florida State College Jacksonville, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College and State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.
The tournament's singles and doubles champions advance to the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships Oct. 10-13 at Three Oaks Tennis Center in Fort Myers, FL.
Tennis plays its NJCAA championship season in the spring.
Competing for Eastern Florida this weekend will be sophomore Kaila Cochran and freshmen Hope Fellows, Laura Gorski, Erica Nielsen and Isabella Sella.
Sella, from Valinhos, Brazil, will play in the No. 1 singles position and is looking forward to the competition.
"Our team is ready for this weekend," Sella said. "I am ready too."
As for playing as No. 1, she admits to feeling some pressure.
"I think the pressure is good for me," she said. "I play better with the pressure."
At the same time she is still adjusting to the demands of collegiate tennis and the quality of the opposition.
"The players here are faster," Sella said. "The players here play hard. They play with power."
Cochran of Indialantic, FL and Melbourne Central Catholic High will play No. 2, Fellows of Cocoa Beach, FL and Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High will play at No. 3, Nielsen of Merritt Island, FL and Edgewood Jr./Sr. High will play at No. 4 and Gorski of Palm Bay, FL and Palm Bay High, will play at No. 5.
For doubles Eastern Florida head coach Chuck Jacobs is teaming Sella and Cochran and Fellows and Nielsen.
The tournament is the latest test for his nascent team after earlier scrimmages against mainly four-year colleges.
"I wanted to challenge the players with our fall schedule," Jacobs said. "I felt if they could rise to the challenge (in scrimmages) against tougher Division II opponents it would make us a tougher, more experienced team as we approach our conference tournament.
"Our fall season will jump start our first regular spring championship season. It is all about confidence in tennis and if the players can have success this fall it will only help them as we move into spring. As always our goal is to win our conference tournament but more importantly we want to learn from our wins and losses and we want to develop model student-athletes.
"I feel pretty lucky to have such a great group of players who are working really hard to leave a positive mark on a first-year program," Jacobs added. "Our individual play will be our biggest strength as we move forward but our doubles play and how the ladies work together at doubles will be where we can get better."
The fall season also gives the tennis community exposure to Eastern Florida's new program.
"I am still looking for more players for the spring season and with success in the fall my hope is it can make the decision to come to Eastern Florida and play for us much easier," Jacobs said. "The spring schedule is just about set, 15 matches and two tournaments are in place.
"I think people will be surprised at the intensity and fast pace in a college tennis match," Jacobs added. "Fan involvement in our matches is always encouraged. Unlike the tennis you normally see on television where silence is the norm we encourage a more boisterous Davis Cup-like atmosphere that will give us a good home court advantage."
For now Eastern Florida's home courts are at Jimmy Moore Park at the intersection of Sarno and Wickham roads in Melbourne. New courts will be built on the Melbourne Campus.